on America

“Where are you headed?” he asks, his countenance a mixture of seriousness with detectable strains of affability.

“San Francisco.”

“Do you live there?” he continues.

I hesitate, then recovering my nerves mutter “Thereabouts.”

“Mountain View?” he says, reading it off the screen. I nod in ascent. And how do you support yourself?”

“I’m unemployed,” and I grin like the bastard that I am. Ah another foreigner living off the dole! Then I add “I’m a college drop-out and I am currently living with my parents…” before I trail off into minor details.

He stamps my passport then proceeds to flip through it. Upon seeing the Bangladeshi visa on my passport, his scanning eyes cease their rapid motion. Perhaps he wonders what I was doing there, a Muslim nation tittering on the precipice of fundamentalism. He finishes the bureaucratic processes. And I am set to.

America is an interesting place, there is no doubt about it. The foreign languages, gentle susurrations, that escape from almost every nook and cranny only testify to the imperial nature of America. Only an empire has the capacity and tolerance (which is proportional to a nation’s wealth) to unite so many people. And strange as it may sound, only as empire is a society able to reach greatness. Empires facilitate the exchange of ideas, which help advance their societies or ‘progress’ as we moderns are apt to call this transformation, though I personally detest the word; what are we progressing to, I dare ask!

By this I am not saying that we should construct empires and subjugate people. No, this is utter nonsense. What I do believe is that we should find ways of facilitating the interaction between different peoples and in turn, the transmission ideas, which are in essence the motor of all things human.

Plato’s Commonwealth is an expected response to imperial Athens. And I say expected because there will always be people that oppose change and Plato is guilty of such tendencies. His ideal state is a response to a decadent Athens, a state on the descent thanks to the defilement brought on by the erosion of good, old-fashioned values. To stave of destruction, Athens must move in the opposite direction, away from the open state and return to the tribal state, a closed and homogenous society. The Athens he idealizes is an Athens of extreme poverty — of course he belongs to the race of the haves. It is also an elitist and aristocratic society though to say this is somewhat of a tautology, since for the Greeks, the best and noble are one in the same.

Plato’s magnus opus is both xenophobic and anti-democratic. It stands for the strengthening of the mythological us and the others or ‘barbarians’. It also stands for the slave-master dichotomy.

Plato’s anti-humanist beliefs are obfuscated by Socrates’ humanist attitudes. Under the aegis of his master’s humanism, Plato advocates the eradication of the state, for he calls for the predication of a new state and he proceeds to describe its development. His appeal for the tribal society, one of a small feudal-like village. And it is a feudal state for a feudal state allows for the stagnation, the lack of social mobility if you will, he calls ‘just’.

If we are to be convinced by Plato — a typical philosopher in the sense that he believes himself redeemed, i.e, chosen, for he understands — then democracy is evil and must be done away with. The humanist belief that all men are created equal under the eyes of God (surely the Basileus, King of Kings, never blinks!) is an aberration. Of course most scholars and philosophers even if they are humanists, are sadly contaminated by Plato’s hatred, excusing his ‘faults’ — I know I was guilty of such ignoble behavior.

Perhaps one day, I shall be able to write a book for God knows that I have it within me to digress — coherently I hope — ad nauseam . Ainsi soit il.

Now, returning to the matter at hand, for my intention was to divagate on America and not Plato; then again nothing can truly be planned, for such are the vicissitudes of man that nothing is ever for certain — save death. God in His magnificence only requires this from us; between beginning and end, interchangeable antipodes, man is free to do as he sees fit. God is great! Ainsi soit il.

Ah why must I be so clever? My sarcasm sometimes does, fortunately, get the best of me. As to the charge that I am a cynic, I say: Woe me! Alack, I have no bite, much less am I a dog!

I love America and I say this with all the reverence that a malcontent like myself can ever affect. I love America not because it has been great — as the French do with their once grandiose nation — but because it is great. But who knows, the armies of the anti-humanist coalition are fast moving. (Hah! for a minute I sounded all-too-Jewish with this allusion to a final battle between good and evil of apocalyptic proportions, woe me!)

America has a distrust of foreigners yet one need only look at the people that work at our airports: the majority are foreigners. America is a land of contradictions, no doubt like any other human machination.

Now, I must halt for nationalism is not my intention. I hate nationalism for I do not believe in the concept of the static and therefore eternal racial unit. I do think Woodrow Wilson an utter fool for calling the predication of a nation-state a human right. How could he if the greatest nations are not the nation-states but the multi-ethnic nations? Then again, his mistake is pardonable, for America had yet to become great.

Perhaps one day, the extolled and adulated ‘melting pot’ will be instantiated and we shall all live happily ever after. O I do surprise myself, but optimism is more than I can stomach, especially when it spills forth from my lips, like a flatulence of the mouth. Aïe! Aïe!